The function of the committee is to secure accessibility improvements to all modes of public transport which can be implemented within the resources available to transport providers and other relevant bodies. The committee pursues its objectives primarily through liaison with transport operators and other organisations directly involved in the supply of public transport services, including the companies within the CIE Group, who are represented on the committee and participate fully in its work. The nature of the work of the committee means that it does not issue formal reports or make formal recommendations to me.
Deputies will be aware from my replies to previous questions that the committee has met with considerable success. For example, a high degree of accessibility has already been achieved on the railway system and a firm basis has been established for further accessibility improvement to trains and stations. The CIE bus companies are committed to obtaining the most accessible and user-friendly vehicles available, on a cost-effective basis. Their urban fleet replacement programmes are proceeding by reference to the recommended specifications of the UK disabled persons' transport advisory committee. Bus Éireann's Expressway fleet now includes more than 190 coaches whose front section may be lowered to facilitate boarding and all new additions to the fleet will have this facility.
Both bus companies are monitoring technical and operational developments as regards wheelchair accessable low-floor buses with a view to identifying cost-effective and operationally-proven vehicles of this type which would be suitable for their overall requirements. Meanwhile, the growing availability of wheelchair-accessible taxis is a significant step towards providing a flexible, door-to-door solution to the particular mobility problems of wheelchair users.